photos KELLEY SHEENAN
Following an intensely stressful and grief-filled period, hairdresser MJ Portenski Sili’s own experience with naturopathy led her to pursue study in the field. Currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy at Endeavour College while still working as a hairdresser – “It is a special connection that you form with your clients, not only to make them feel fabulous on the outside, but we are in their safe bubble” – she says she wants to further her growth and education and also help educate the hairdressing industry on how to better care for ourselves in such a fast-paced environment. Here MJ walks us through a day in her world and shares her go-to vegetarian meatball recipe.
No day is the same for me! Unless I have a lecture, I don’t have to work to a particular schedule, so I love being able to listen to my body and go with the flow. Non-negotiable is walking my dog Sumo because he’ll huff and puff all day if I haven’t taken him out – and a morning walk is a great way to wake up! I then fit in breakfast and a morning coffee between my learning modules. During my lunch break, I fit my triathlon training in depending on the weather, then lunch and back to study, with the hope of an afternoon meditation to regather my thoughts. I love to cook, so I use these days to be creative and cook something yummy for dinner.
My days in the salon are what I call “fast days”. I work long hours within four days to allow for my study days, so these are usually filled with back-to-back appointments. I start my day with either a HIIT workout or a run to set the pace for the morning.
Breakfast is two poached eggs with half an avocado, one slice of seeded sourdough, seasoning and tomato relish. I snack on a protein shake, mandarin or banana, an organic seaweed snack (to boost my iodine levels and support my thyroid) and some greek yoghurt. For lunch, I have roasted vegetables – the more colour, the better – with marinated feta, rocket quinoa or lean meat, topped with herbs and nuts. Towards the end of the week, if I have leftover roast vegetables, I’ll make a shakshuka or have them in a wrap for dinner.
For me, nothing beats a sunset dinner. We have a great [view of the] sunset from our kitchen – the perfect way to end the day! I do this as much as I can when I’m not working late.
For me, nothing beats a sunset dinner.
When I became vegetarian, I was determined to make a “meatball” that even the carnivores couldn’t resist. It has become a crowd favourite!
I was a vegetarian for over two years and used it as an opportunity to branch out and not always rely on meat. I’m eating meat again but have a much better awareness of quality and ethically sourced varieties. For this recipe, you will need time to prepare, roast and chill the ball mixture for a minimum of two hours, to ensure perfect rolling texture before baking. These taste amazing with a tomato-based sauce in a sub, on top of spaghetti or with a side of salad.
photos MJ PORTENSKI SILI
7 portobello mushrooms (remember, variety = flavour, so try different types of mushrooms)
7 shiitake mushrooms
1 onion (diced)
5 garlic cloves (diced)
1 cup quick oats
1 cup breadcrumbs (toasted)
150g parmesan cheese (grated)
1 bunch of Italian flat parsley (chopped finely)
Fresh oregano (to flavour)
Pinch of thyme
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to season
1 knob of Butter
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Roast mushrooms, onion, garlic, olive oil, butter, thyme, salt and pepper in a tray.
Cut up once slightly cooled, keeping all flavour and oil.
In a large bowl add your roasted mushroom mix, breadcrumbs, oats, fresh herbs, dried herbs, eggs and parmesan.
Mix, cover and chill for a minimum of two hours (turn the oven off until then).
Two hours later…
Preheat the oven again to 180 degrees.
Shape balls to desired size and back until golden.
Add to your favourite subs, pasta, pizza or salad.
Feel free to experiment with a variety of different herbs! Rosemary goes great with mushrooms too! If you are vegan or gluten free, you could try the following alternatives.
Egg = 1 tbsp of either chia or flaxseed meal with 3 tbsp water
Parmesan Cheese = Cashew butter
Butter = Nuttelex
Breadcrumbs = Almond meal, oatmeal or gluten-free breadcrumbs
Quick Oats = Gluten-free instant oats